The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘holiness’

Striving Against Sin

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 26, 2016

30217You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. Heb. 12:4

My family knew a man who told us he was “struggling against the sin of pornography.”

It turned out he kept a big box of porn under his bed. He opened it when the urge hit, and then he felt some guilt afterward because he knew it was wrong, but his guilty feelings never drove him to change. When challenged with Scripture, he justified his sins by saying we all sin.

My friends, this is not striving against sin. This is making provision for the flesh and living after the flesh. He provided for his flesh by keeping the box beneath the bed when he already knew it was wrong. And he lived after the flesh by repeatedly obeying the urge to open the box. This man deceived himself that he was a Christian involved in the “struggle against sin.” He was actually a repeat-sinner in ongoing rebellion against God, experiencing worldly sorrow–a sorrow that does not lead to repentance and salvation (I Cor. 7:9-11).

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Rom. 13:14)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

Can it get any clearer? Unless we put on the LORD Jesus Christ, and put to death and mortify the deeds of the body, we will die. Period.

I could post the whole chapter of Romans 6 here. But here are some highlights–

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (1-2)

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. (5-7)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (12-16)

Either we are dead to sin and no longer living in it, or we are still obeying sin and headed to an eternal DEATH. We have a choice to make. To whom will we present the members of our bodies?–Sin or God? To truly be under grace is to be freed from the dominion of sin. If you are under the dominion of sin, you are separated from grace and need to die with Christ that you may also live with Him.

Jesus depicted the struggle against sin very graphically–

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30)

If you are offering your eye, your hand, your mouth, or your mind to sin, dare you believe that Jesus will accept your excuses after this stern warning about the peril of sin and its consequences?

“We all sin…”
“If my spouse/parents/children/problems were different, then I’d be different…”
“People hurt me, so I can’t help…”

Jesus won’t accept these excuses. He said cut off the hand or pluck out the eye. Do whatever you have to do to escape being cast into hell. Because you WILL be cast into hell unless you get the victory over sin. And the victory over sin comes through Him, but He doesn’t hand you victory on a silver platter while that wicked box is still under your bed, friend. Until you truly sorrow over your sin to the point that you are ready to fight to the death, the victory will not come.

Do you want to strive against sin and win? Here’s what that looks like–

March into your bedroom and pull that wretched box out. Take it outside and set it on fire. Confess to the Lord that you have done wicked things He hates. Confess that you deserve His judgment and there is no excuse. Ask Him to break your heart as His is broken over sin. Ask Him to show you how your sin exploits and hurts others (He will). Call up a strong Christian and tell him what you just did. Ask him to check up on you regularly and hold your feet to the fire. Give him access to your future internet searches. Search out and find every verse that exposes and condemns that sin, and post them around the house. Memorize verses about holiness, obedience, and victory in Jesus. Make a covenant with your eyes that you will not look lustfully at women (Job 31:1), and daily walk out that covenant. When you want to stop at the convenience store that sells dirty magazines, REFUSE to stop. In fact, don’t go to those stores. Don’t hang around people who look at porn. When you drive past a seductive billboard or half-dressed woman, train your eyes to look away, refusing to offer your eyes to unrighteousness. When you accidentally see an image that tempts you, immediately replace the image with Scripture or a remembrance of what Jesus did for you on the cross. Pray and take the way out by obeying Jesus no matter how strong the temptation is. Teach others that porn will take them to hell. If the internet is a problem, GET IT SHUT OFF. This is not too harsh, friend. This is not yet resisting to blood, and you have to be serious in the fight if you want to overcome.

When’s the last time you fasted from food and meditated on Scripture all day, so as to bring your body completely under subjection and get the victory over that evil thing you keep doing? It may take that. Do whatever it takes.

When you’re engaged in this kind of struggle, you can be sure that the Lord will come down and fight for you. He will not let you be tempted beyond your endurance, but will provide a way out. But too many are offered a way out and don’t take it. You must train yourself to take the way out. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Sin crouches at the door and desires to rule over you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT. You must! And you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, but if you ignore the way out provided and make provision for your flesh, you will fail of the grace of God.

I was delivered from cigarettes many years ago, when I cried out to the Lord and He told me to crush my cigarettes to bits and discard them. I had been praying for deliverance for a couple months, while asking my spouse to leave me a few cigarettes per day. As long as I made that provision for my flesh, I couldn’t quit.  But when I acted on the Lord’s command and crushed them up, told my spouse not to leave me any more, and also refused to ever buy a pack ever again, that was it. I never smoked again.

Of course the tempter tried to get me to return to my vomit. A few months later, I woke up on a summer night. The first thought that popped into my mind was, “There’s a pack of cigarettes on the counter (my spouse still smoked.) If you get up and smoke one on the porch, no one will ever know.” At that point, I had a choice to make. I could smoke it and blame my spouse for tempting me. Or I could resist the devil and REFUSE to even get out of bed. I chose the latter. Staying in bed was the way out. And I’m happy to say the tempter fled and the urge passed. God’s Word is true.

A dog  feeling a bit sad about devouring his vomit, and a washed pig “sorry” to have fallen in the mud again, is not a struggling Christian. Such a person was better off before knowing the truth–

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Pet. 2:20-21

Now maybe you don’t drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls who do. Maybe you pride yourself in that porn is not a problem for you. My question to you is this:  How is your character? Is it like the character of Jesus Christ? Are you rude to your coworkers? Do you steal time from your employer by being lazy? Are you impatient with your spouse or children? Do you let ungodliness come out of your mouth when you’re irritated? Do you have road rage? Do you harbor unforgiveness toward others? Do you threaten others, rather than entreat them? It’s easy to judge ourselves by a few externals and think we are doing ok compared to others. But comparing ourselves to others is not wise. Let us compare ourselves to Jesus, and the standards given to New Testament believers. Let us not be happy with external changes if our hearts are still darkened. White washed tombs are still filled with death. Let us pray that God will show us any wicked way in ourselves, and then begin to earnestly strive against sin.

If you are lustful, angry, violent, unthankful, lazy, greedy, impatient, unkind, etc., it’s time to crucify your flesh with its passions and desires. It’s time to fight like you’ve never fought before. It’s time to cry out to Jesus like you never have before. It’s time to flush your deceitful excuses and make humble confession to those you’ve been hurting. It’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and step into the light; God is not fooled, and those close to you are probably not fooled either. It’s time to fill your mind with all the Scriptures that apply TO YOU, not to your neighbor. It’s time to meditate on the Word day and night, and stop letting your mind fill with thoughts that lead to sin. It’s time to figure out what the way out looks like, and start taking it. It’s time to cut off the hand, pluck out the eye, memorize Scripture, become accountable to strong believers, fast, agonize, make it right with all those you’ve offended, and learn to do good.

If you continue in sin,

Your professed faith in Christ won’t save you.
Your excuses won’t save you (ie “The woman you gave me…”)
Your church attendance won’t save you.
Your exposure of false churches won’t save you.
Your doctrinal knowledge won’t save you.
Your Christian friendships won’t save you.
Your good reputation before others won’t save you.
Your exposure of OTHER people’s sins won’t save you.
Your “balancing the scale” with some good works won’t save you.

You might even have a blog like this one, and work hard to expose all sorts of things. You might witness on the streets or give money to missionaries. But if you don’t deal with that sin that you know about, and if you don’t change your behavior, Jesus’ stern warning about hell applies to you.

Sin desires to have you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT (Genesis 4:7). It is not those who hear the Word of God, but those who do it, who will be saved.

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The Field is the World; The Field is not the Church

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 12, 2015

How many times have you heard someone say concerning the overwhelming deluge of sin in the Church, “Well, there are wheat and tares in the Church, and God will figure it out in the end.”

Are we really supposed to turn a blind eye to a mixture of wheat and tares in the Church?

Look carefully at Jesus’ explanation of the wheat and tares parable–

“He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. ***The field is the world***, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matt. 13:47-43)

Vs. 38 is very explicit–according to Jesus, the field is THE WORLD. (Not the Church!)

That means the WORLD is presently filled with wheat and tares dwelling together. The wheat (believers) are also called “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth” elsewhere in Scripture. They are purposely dispersed among the tares so as to witness to them and convert as many as possible to wheat. Both will be harvested at the end, the harvest signifying the end of all earthly life as we know it, when there is no more chance for anyone to repent. The wheat will be gathered safely, but the tares will be thrown out of the Kingdom of God and into the furnace of fire. This is very important–Jesus was not describing a mixture of righteous and evil people in the Church, but a mixture of righteous and evil people in the World.

Furthermore, we need to pay attention to the parable itself, which included a directive to not harm the tares (in the world) lest the wheat also be harmed–

The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them (the tares) up?’ (Matt. 13:28)

What would “gathering the tares up” do? It would kill them. To pull a plant out of the ground is to end its earthly life. The servants of God were asking if they should eradicate the wicked from among the righteous in the world.

But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt. 13:29-30)

The righteous servants of God are not to go and gather out of the WORLD (the field) those who appear to be tares. We are to let them grow. This is yet another passage that flies in the face of “just war” for Christians. We are to preach the gospel to the tares, of course, in the hopes that they repent and are converted to wheat. But we are not to remove them from the ground (kill them!) This premature separation of wheat and tares could harm some of the wheat. There are several ways this could happen, but I will mention one that sticks out to me.

We have many warmongering “Christians” among us in the West (who apparently don’t think Jesus’ commands are meant to be obeyed) who are gung-ho to eradicate certain plots of tares. I have even heard some say that violently removing these whole groups of people from the earth is an act of mercy and kindness to the rest of us. Of course they attempt to justify this with bits and pieces of Old Covenant Scripture while ignoring or sidestepping many New Testament commands. This attitude is nothing more than Dark Ages crusaderism, and is not Christian in the slightest. What happens when these “tares” are removed from the world by professing “Christians”? Real wheat is also hurt. Those who might otherwise become Christians are repulsed by this fake form of Christianity. Some real Christians who dwell among “the tares” are damaged or destroyed along with them. (A case in point that is always on my heart is the Palestinian Christians who suffer along with their Muslim neighbors from the misguided zeal of zionists who send money to help steal their land and oppress them.)

Another danger that springs from believing the field is the Church–and I alluded to this in the beginning, is the turning of blind eyes to sin in the Church. We have already established that Jesus never said “the field is the Church,” but instead “the field is the WORLD.” Jesus never, ever taught that His spotless Bride was a mix of good and evil people! His Church is only those people whose works back up their profession in obedience to Christ. The New Testament is clear that sin in the gathering of believers must be dealt with. We see in the story of Ananias and Sapphira that God, through Peter, dealt swiftly and decisively with deceivers. Paul also taught that we are not to even eat with someone who claims to be a Christian yet walks in obvious sin. We are instead to “put away from ourselves the evil person” and have no fellowship with the wicked (I Cor. 5; 2 Cor. 6:14-15; Eph. 5:11).

In summary, real Christians live in a WORLD that is filled with believers and unbelievers (wheat and tares.) We are to preach the gospel to the tares, that they may repent and be converted; but we are not to uproot the tares lest our brethren (wheat) also be harmed. The Church is the Body of saints/believers sprinkled throughout the earth, and is always called to be entirely holy. Obvious sin in any local assembly needs to be reproved. Those who refuse to repent should be separated from in order to encourage their repentance, and to stop leaven from spreading. We Christians need to stop appealing to the parable of the wheat and tares to excuse our refusal to deal with the sin in our assemblies. To do so is a misuse of Scripture, for Jesus said very plainly, “The field is the world.”

God bless you!

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Are You Religious?

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 19, 2014

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (Jam. 1:27)

I have heard many people say, “I’m a Christian, but I’m not religious.” What they generally mean is that they have a relationship with God (or at least think they do), and don’t put much emphasis on religious things (however they define that term.)

How we define the term “religious” matters very much. If “religious” means “judging myself by externals while ignoring my internal condition,” I am not religious. But if religious means “careful to obey the Scriptures so as to please my Lord,” then I am unashamedly religious, and hope to always be so!

The apostle James defined “pure and undefiled religion” for us. Its two major components are: mercifully caring for those who have no one to care for them, and keeping oneself unspotted from the world.

These two commands are nothing new.

Concerning the first component, even under the old covenant, God was concerned about how His people responded to the weak among them–widows, orphans, and even “strangers.” Would they leave the extra gleanings in their fields for the poor, or take every bit of food to enrich only themselves? Would they oppress those who couldn’t protect themselves–widows and orphans? (Is it really ok to put our elderly family members in nursing homes? Is it ok to kill our offspring or to ignore it when others do?) Would they mistreat the strangers among them, or would they treat the aliens well? (The uncharitable rants about immigration I have heard from “conservative Christian” mouths suggest most of us do not understand God’s heart for all people, or the responsibility He lays upon those who claim His name. If this is you, I recommend a more careful reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan.)

Concerning the second component of pure religion, God has always been concerned with His people “being unspotted.” He taught the people of Israel how to judge between what was clean and unclean, and reserved the right to decide for them what was allowable. I believe these lessons in discernment were intended to teach them deep spiritual truths that went way beyond food or touching dead bodies. The letter of the law was meant to lead them (and us) to the Spirit of the law. He was teaching them not to “eat” with no discernment, as do unbelievers. Unbelievers watch filth on tv, listen to satan’s musicians perverting truth on the radio, and touch “death” (sin) with no regard for how it will hurt them or others. God’s people were, and still are, to be set apart. Please hear me: Carefully discerning what pleases the Lord and avoiding the things He hates is not legalism. If God’s people become corrupt, how can they bring healing to the nations?

And so we see that God’s definition of “pure and undefiled religion” hasn’t changed, even though a new and better covenant has replaced and outshined the old. As we live in days of greater light, we also bear greater responsibility. Therefore I would challenge the “non-religious Christian” of today with these questions:

Are you defending the fatherless and pleading for the widow? Are you loving the stranger as you love yourself? (Lev. 19:34) If Muslim families from some war-torn country moved into the house to your left and the house to your right, how would you treat them? If you are a Christian, the question is not what their book tells them to do to you. The question is what YOUR BOOK says to do for them (and whether you will obey the Lord or not).

Are you keeping yourself “unspotted from the world”, cleansing yourself from ALL filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God? (2 Cor. 7:1) Note that there is filthiness of the flesh, and filthiness of the spirit. We are to cleanse ourselves from BOTH.

Or do you consider these things too religious for you?

If so, your relationship with God needs to be questioned.

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Perishing From the Assembly

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 25, 2014

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (Jn. 10:14)

In the rebellion of Korah, the dissenters falsely declared that the Lord was among “every one of them.” (Num. 16:3) Moses responded that the Lord would show who was His and who is holy, and He would cause the one He chooses to come near to Him (vs. 5). It was clear to Moses that the Lord was not, in fact, among every one of them. The Lord demonstrated who were His and who were not by swallowing the rebels alive into a pit. They perished from among the assembly (vss. 32-33).

Today there are so many who claim that the Lord is among them while they rebel against God’s chosen Leader (Jesus Christ). But what did Jesus say? He knows His sheep, and they know Him. They believe He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so they follow Him (Jn. 10:27).

I remember telling a young man who unashamedly admitted living in fornication that he was not the Lord’s sheep. He kept telling me how sad it made him feel for me to say such a thing, and he pressed me to confess that he was the Lord’s sheep based on his having prayed a prayer at one time to be saved. I refused. How could I claim he was the Lord’s sheep when Jesus said His sheep know His voice and follow Him, refusing to obey the voice of a stranger? (Jn. 10:4-5) After trying for two years to get this young man to come to a place of repentance, he still defended his sinful lifestyle and wicked heart. He still argued against holiness and obedience to the Lord every chance he got, most often while “fellowshiping” with other Christians. The true sheep do not do these things, and such “fellowship” is worthless, as light is forever divided from darkness. When we figure out we are in the presence of an unrepentant Korah, we need to, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.” (Num. 16:26)

The Apostle Paul may have been referring back to the rebellion of Korah when he wrote the following:

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Tim. 2:19)

Despite the deceitful words and conjured-up doctrines of religious rebels, the Lord does know those who are His. He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, testing and proving and perfecting that which is real (Mal. 3:3). His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matt. 3:12)

Who shall draw near to the Lord? Is the Lord with us just because we insist He is? Can we be close to the Lord while disregarding His Word?

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. (Psa. 24:3-6)

What about the disobedient who insist that God is with them?

To these He says,

What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? (Psa. 50:16-17)

Just as Korah perished from the assembly, so these will perish from God’s assembly if they do not repent. They may hang around the congregation of the righteous, but they will not remain there. The wheat will be gathered to Christ, and the chaff will be thrown in unquenchable fire. They may fool some people for a time, but they will not fool the searching eye of the Lord. Many will go alive into the pit with choir robes on.

Religious people who feverishly work to draw more disobedient disciples after themselves are often admired and followed by many. They can have the biggest churches and appear to have thriving ministries. Nevertheless, they are late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots…for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 12-13). Don’t be fooled by appearances; one day after Korah made his bold claims against God’s authority, he was destroyed. The Lord knows those who are His.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psa. 1)

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Enough!

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 3, 2014

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. I Pet. 4:1-5

Well, Christians, have we not spent enough time in the past doing the will of unbelievers? Have we not wandered long enough in aimless conduct, received by tradition from our fathers? (I Pet. 1:18) Is it not time to heed that trustworthy Voice of the Lord, who commanded in Ezekiel 44:6, “Let us have no more of your abominations”?!

Enough is enough!

We have spent enough time loving the world and the things in the world. We have let the world determine how far we should go with the Lord, rather than letting the Lord determine our relationship with the world. Who or what, then, is our lord? Do we no longer believe that if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him? (I Jn. 2:15)

“In the world but not of the world” sounds so pious on the lips of the religious “Christian” idolater. He hates the one who rebukes in the gate, and speaks evil of him. He imagines that the Spirit of God does not really lust to envy–or yearn jealously–in the face of spiritual adultery (James 4:5). He has lain in the lap of Delilah so long that his hair has been shorn, and the grieved Holy Spirit is long gone, but he insists that his continued feasting at the table of the devil is sanctioned by God. He does not see that though he claims to be “not of the world,” he loves the world, he is of the world, he is loved by the world, and he is perishing with the world.

Jesus comes to the Laodicean church, pleading with those inside to let Him apply some eye salve to their blinded eyes. But the church mostly shrugs and insists that she sees just fine without His help. She seeks council of other idolaters, who assure her she is right to disregard Him. She beats Him and sends Him away, having branded Him a legalist, a killjoy, and a cultish freak.

Yes, she is fine without the help of Jesus. Her people have their programs, their doctrines, their baptismal certificates. They have put in their time, won the approval of other men, and don’t need anyone rocking the boat. When the world’s parade comes to town, she fully intends to have a little fun. She is so devoted to her idols, the devil himself can sign his name on them, and she will still bow down. All while claiming to be walking with Christ and in no spiritual danger.

Enough is not enough, to this adulterous wife. The flood of dissipation is quite comfortable to her. The pain of the One who died to redeem her means nothing to her. She doesn’t take the time to find out what He wants; she decides for herself what He will have to live with. “Lord, Lord,” she says, while painting her face for her other lovers.

I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow.
No turning back, no turning back.

Have you decided to follow Jesus even if none go with you?

It is a lonely road for the pilgrim who loves the Voice of Jesus, and hates the things He hates. It is not a road where all speak well of you. It is a road where deeds done and words spoken with the best intentions possible will be used to make you look like a fool. However, since our Redeeming Lord suffered for us in the flesh, let us arm ourselves with the same mind. We don’t suffer alone. We suffer with Jesus and with all who love Him in sincerity.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. I Tim. 3:12

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Are You a Pharisee?

Posted by israeliteindeed on October 31, 2011

If you are a faithful servant of Jesus, chances are you have been called a Pharisee once or twice. The assumption of many is that the Pharisees were people who practiced strict obedience to God and urged others to do the same, while the prostitutes and tax-collectors were accepted by Christ because they didn’t judge anyone.

Just as many misunderstand and misrepresent Jesus Christ Himself, many misunderstand and misrepresent the Pharisees. In fact, many people who mislabel the servants of Christ as “Pharisees” are themselves behaving as did the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.  It is my intention in this writing to encourage the hearts of God’s true servants by shedding light on the true nature of the Pharisees.

In Matthew 23, Jesus warned His disciples and the multitudes about the Pharisees:

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  Therefore whatever they tell you to observe,that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.  For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.  They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,  greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ (vs. 2-7)

We see here that the Pharisees would not do what they told others to do. They were hypocrites. When they did appear to do good works, it was only to be seen by men–that is, their motive was not love for God and men, but love for themselves. They wished to appear righteous, but they were not righteous. They wanted to be above other men, to be called “Rabbi,” and to have the best seats. They exalted themselves over other men, but God did not esteem them. God esteems the lowly, and the greatest of His true children are willing servants of their brethren, not brutal and hypocritical lords over them (Matt 23:11-12; Matt. 20:25-28).  Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. Everything He called us to, He first lived by example. His servants are not greater than He is, and will do the same.  Just like their Good Shepherd, they will lay down their lives for the sheep. This, the Pharisees would not do, for their motives were selfish. They were not shepherds, but hirelings.

The remainder of Matthew 23 contains the rest of Jesus’ passionate rebuke of the Pharisees. Here are some of His complaints against them:

1.  They not only refused to enter the kingdom of heaven, they also stopped others from entering. (13)  Luke 7:30 records that the Pharisees rejected the will of God for themselves by refusing to participate in the baptism of repentance.  They continually spoke against the ministry of Jesus and tried to dissuade others from following Him.  Their doctrine was dangerous leaven (Matt. 16:12).  They were motivated by jealousy, desiring to have power over men. If they had been right with God, God would have shown them the truth about who Jesus was, but they did not want to see. When John the Baptist neither ate bread nor drank wine, they said he had a demon; when Jesus ate bread and drank wine, they said He was a glutton and a winebibber. When Jesus healed men, they claimed He did it by satan’s power, or they claimed that healing a man broke the Sabbath law. (The truth is that the Spirit of the law was never broken by Christ. God allowed men to pull a wounded animal out of a ditch on the Sabbath. They should have seen that a man had greater value.)  Jesus summed up their refusal to enter the kingdom of heaven in his parable of a king whose servants declared, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”  In short, the Pharisees rejected the reign of the rightful King, and they would be destroyed (Luke 19:11-27).

2.  They devoured widows’ houses. (14) Perhaps they did this by taking too much money from poor widows, or denying money to widows who needed help so they could live high-on-the-hog themselves. God takes offense when widows and orphans are cheated, and considers Himself their chief Protector who will avenge them (Exo. 22:22-24).  The Pharisees were blatantly breaking God’s law!

3.  They made long prayers for pretense’ sake. (14)  Their prayers were detestable to God not only because God detests the prayers of the disobedient (Prov. 28:9, 15:8; Psa. 66:18; Isa. 59:2), but also because the prayers were done for show.  Pure hypocrisy!

4.  Those they discipled were “twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (15) Their fruit was terrible! Their new converts were even more wicked than themselves.

5. They added ridiculous rules to the law of God, by which they could refrain from keeping their oaths while still appearing righteous. (16-22)  Jesus called them “fools and blind,” and explained why their loopholes were foolish to God.  In Mark 7:6-13, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for teaching traditions that actually violated God’s commands.

6.  They followed meticulous tithing laws, but neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. (23-24)  For He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?  (Mic. 6:8)  Jesus said the whole law of God can be summed up by loving God supremely, and loving your neighbor as yourself. The Pharisees loved themselves supremely, and merely used their positions of power to exact what they wanted from the people.  The fact that they did not love justice and mercy is evident by the fact that they not only pushed for the crucifixion of Jesus, but they also wanted to kill Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead (John 12:10-11).

7.  Though they maintained a clean exterior, inside they were full of extortion and self-indulgence, uncleanness, hypocrisy and lawlessness. (25-28)  Pay attention, dear Christian. The Pharisees were not obedient, but lawless. They were not followers of the self-less and loving God, but rather self-indulgent extortioners of others. They were not holy, but unclean. They were not truthful, but hypocritical.  God’s problem with the Pharisees was not that they were holy men who taught the people the difference between right and wrong. God’s problem with the Pharisees was that they were unholy men who practiced lawlessness while pretending to be holy.  John the Baptist warned the Pharisees that they must bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matt. 3:7-10). He threatened that they would be cut down unless they produced the right fruit, which they were not as yet producing.

8.  They pretended at honoring the prophets, claiming they would not have killed them as their forefathers did, even as murder was already brewing in their hearts toward Jesus–the greatest Prophet. (29-36) The truth was that the prophets rebuked hypocrisy in their day, and would have rebuked the Pharisees also; and the hearts of the Pharisees were just as blind and murderous as those of their predecessors.  Not only would they kill Jesus, but they would also abuse and kill other servants of the Lord to come (like Stephen), because they hated the truth those messengers would bring.

Unless this list describes you, you are not a Pharisee.

Have you have repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation?–This the Pharisees would not do. 

Do you love the servants of the Lord who bring the truth, even if the truth reveals that you need to change?–The Pharisees did all they could to silence the truth, including conspiracies, lying, and murder. 

Do you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus daily?–The Pharisees were self-indulgent and made use of others to enrich themselves. 

Do you pray in secret so that your Father may reward you openly?–The Pharisees prayed pretentiously in public for show. 

Are you doing what you can to fulfill the great commission–making disciples of Jesus and teaching them to obey what He has commanded?–The Pharisees did just the opposite, turning men away from Jesus (whose burden is light) and insisting men obey their hard-to-bear traditions instead. 

Have you submitted to Christ and been cleansed on the inside, so that your exterior cleanness is an accurate reflection of your inward holiness to the Lord?–The Pharisees were only lawlessness and uncleanness wearing a disguise.

Here is an example of a true “Pharisee.” Let’s say you go out into the streets to hand out tracts and preach the gospel. You tell people they need to repent of their sins and follow Jesus. A man tells you he is already a Christian, and he lives in fornication and drunkenness–so what? He refuses to repent, and says that going to church makes him right with God. Furthermore, he doesn’t appreciate your preaching, and thinks your message is wrong. As a matter of fact, he would like you to take your preaching elsewhere.  As others try to listen to your message, he causes a disruption so they too are turned away from the truth.  Here you have a person refusing to repent and obey Jesus, trusting in tradition (church-going) to save him. He disdains the messenger of God, rejects the truth, and tries to stop others from accepting it. Sound familiar?

The irony is that this man just might call you a “Pharisee” when you point out that unless he repents of his willful sinning, he will perish. The truth is that the name describes him much more than it describes you.  Take heart, dear Christian.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household? (Matt. 10:25)  Know that you have been a faithful witness and carry on. The Lord who sees all things will bring all things to light.

God bless you.

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What Spirit is Working in You?

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 27, 2011

And you [saints] hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. (Eph. 2:1-2)

I’d like to draw your attention to the last phrase, “the prince of the power of the air [satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  The saints to whom Paul was writing had walked according to the course of this world only in time past.  Since then they had died with Christ, and been raised to a new holy life. Their conduct was no longer disobedient toward God, for those who are disobedient now are still being controlled by satan.

Many profess to be children of God and filled with the Spirit of God. However, the tree is known by the fruit it produces (Luke 6:44).

The Spirit of God is the HOLY Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to and finds rest in only those who obey God (Acts 5:32).  If a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, his works will be holy, for the Spirit working in him will produce fruit after His own kind (holiness). The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love (obedience to God’s commands–Jn. 14:23), joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance [self-control] (Gal 5:22-23).

If the fruit being produced in a man is fleshly and disobedient to God, the spirit at work in that man is the devil. He can say he believes in Jesus all he wants; even the devil himself believes in Jesus. Not only that, but the devil trembles, knowing that Jesus will soon crush him beneath the feet of the saints (Jam. 2:19; Rom. 16:20).  What the devil will not do is obey Jesus. And those who are taken captive by satan to do his will also live in disobedience (2 Tim. 2:26). As their father does, so do they.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44a)

Those who are doing “the lusts of your father [the devil]” are yet children of the devil.

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (I John 3:10)

Are you DOING righteousness? Not merely acknowledging that Christ was righteous, but doing likewise–living as He lived? Have you crucified your flesh with its affections and lusts?–If not, you are not yet Christ’s (Gal. 5:24). If you are still walking after the flesh, be assured that you will die (forfeit eternal life; Rom. 8:13). Let no one deceive you that you can walk after your flesh and yet possess eternal life.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Gal. 5:19-21)

Those who DO such things shall NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God. For King Jesus Himself will send His angels to remove from His kingdom all things that cause sin and those who DO sin and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41-42). It makes no difference what you believe in your mind and profess with your mouth, if your works continue to be unrighteous.  For many will say “Lord, Lord” on judgment day, and the Lord will turn them away forever because they did not put His words into practice in their everyday lives (Matt. 7).

So I ask you, dear reader, what spirit is working in you? Is it the Holy Spirit of God, working what is righteous and obedient to the Lord? Or is it the spirit of the devil, working what is disobedient?

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  (Eph. 5:3-7)

“Let it not once be named among you,” for the children of disobedience have only wrath to look forward to! Those who live and preach that we can only be disobedient for the rest of our lives have missed the whole purpose of the gospel of grace; they do not understand that Jesus has come to redeem us from all sin and purify for Himself a peculiar people who no longer walk in disobedience, but are zealous for doing what is good (Titus 2:11-14).

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry:  for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. (Col. 3:5-6)

Again, the children of disobedience will have wrath!  If this describes you, your only hope is to repent of doing evil, and turn to the Lord in obedience, trusting in His sacrifice to atone for your past rebellion.  Do not receive the grace of God in vain; do not do injury to the Spirit of grace by continuing in willful disobedience after coming to know the truth, lest you be considered worthy of greater punishment than those who despised Moses’ law and died without mercy (Heb. 10:26-29).

You must let the devil do his works in you no longer, giving him no place (Eph. 4:27).  Submit yourself to God (letting Him reign and rule in your life); resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Jam. 4:7).  The Son of God to Whom you submit was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (I Jn. 3:8). In becoming Christ’s servant and the servant of righteousness, you will no longer be the servant of sin or the devil. In submitting to His yoke (both His control and His divine assistance), you will find rest for your soul at last.  Follow the Lamb of God–Jesus–who only did what pleased the Father (Jn. 8:29).  As He lived, so you are called to live in this world (I Jn. 4:17).  If you do this, you will have confidence before Him at His coming because you have been abiding in Him (I John 2:28) and His Spirit has been living in you (I Jn. 3:24).

May God bless you and dwell in you by His Spirit!

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The King’s Meat and Wine

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 5, 2011

Before Daniel faced the lions’ den, and his three Hebrew friends faced the fiery furnace, they all faced and resisted the temptation of the king’s meat and wine.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (Dan. 1:8)

Have you ever wondered how you might handle intense persecution?  I suggest that we will be better equipped to handle such times if we live lives of consecrated devotion now, refusing to indulge ourselves in the king’s meat and wine right now.

What is the king’s meat and wine?

When these four young men found themselves captives in Babylon, a land of idol worshipers, King Nebuchadnezzar wanted them nourished with his own meat and wine for three years while they were being educated in the ways and culture of the Chaldeans.  Likewise, while we are strangers in a strange land, satan would like us to fill up with his “meat and wine” while he attempts to get us to forget our homeland, that is “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God“– the “better…heavenly country” to which we look (Heb. 11:10, 16)

During our sojourn here, we will be faced with many spiritual battles. Daily we dine on spiritual food; the question is whose spiritual food?

Jesus said we must eat His flesh and drink His blood (partake of the Word of God) to have life, and such as do this dwell in Him (John 6:53-56). To dwell in Him is to abide in Him, as a branch must abide in the Vine to have life and produce fruit (John 15.) Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4) And if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32) This is the same God who said, “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.”  (Psa. 81:10)

There is a table of God from which His sheep can expect a continual feast. He gives us green pastures, still waters, and a constant provision  even in the presence of our enemies (Psa. 23). But there is also a table of demons from which the devil, the god of this world, will tempt us to eat.

The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.   Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.  (I Cor. 10:20-21)

Gentiles here is indicative of those outside the covenant of God, or unbelievers, for a true Jew is one who has had his heart circumcised (Rom. 2:29). What are the sacrifices of unbelievers or Gentiles? Ungodly conversations, un-edifying music, ungodly movies and television shows, and all manner of wicked entertainments and vain pastimes designed to fill us with the wrong “food.”  The children of the devil produce the fruits of the devil; these they lay upon the table of demons, essentially sacrificing to devils. We are naive if we think we can indulge in these sacrifices–even in the more “innocent” of these–and not be changed. Many Christians indulge themselves in “harmless” entertainments as a way of life, and by them become spiritually lazy and weak, gradually falling from their first love and becoming lukewarm in their affections for God.  Such are in the gravest of spiritual dangers. Should intense persecution come upon them in this state of self-indulgence, they would likely fall away entirely!

What made Daniel desire to eat only vegetables and water while he was in training in the king of Babylon’s house?  Although his life was in no immediate danger, there was much to seek the Lord about. His people had experienced great tragedy and overthrow due to their apostasy from the Lord.  I believe Daniel was choosing to deny himself the king’s meat and wine so that he could be as spiritually fit as possible for whatever trials lay ahead, not only to help himself but to help his people–who were very much on his heart, judging by the powerful petition he offered on their behalf (Dan. 9). The prayers of this righteous man were so  effective that an angel was dispatched from heaven to speak with him!  When the temptation to desist from his life of prayer became a choice between prayer and the lions’ den, he was ready. He had already denied his own flesh and set his face to seek the Lord, and had received strength from his communion with God to overcome even the fear of death.

Are we not in a similar situation as Daniel? Are we not watching gross apostasy spread through the church even now, taking people captive? Is now the time to indulge ourselves in fleeting pleasures, while there is so much to pray for, so much to seek God about?

Jesus warned His disciples that following Him would mean being hated by the world, certain tribulation, and possible death. But unless a seed goes into the ground and dies, it cannot produce life. The way up is down. The way to grow in power with God is to deny ourselves. In fact, if we don’t deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him (He went all the way to death), we cannot be His disciples. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). We must be ready to lose every other important relationship if necessary in order to be faithful to Christ. We must be willing to lose even our very lives, trusting our souls to our faithful Creator.

Thousands upon thousands of disciples have followed the Lord to the end, overcoming the devil by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by loving not their own lives to the death (Rev. 12:11).   Before these martyrs faced executioners, guillotines, and other terrors, they had no doubt first denied themselves the king’s meat and wine.  They had passed by the tables of demons that offered them pleasures galore, and ate instead at the table of God, even if it meant standing alone.  Like Moses, they refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;  choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;  esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt [the world]: for [they] had respect unto the recompence of the reward (Heb. 11:24-26).  

God bless you!

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God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 3

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 23, 2011

In the previous post, I wrote out some Scriptures from the Old Testament that demonstrate that once being chosen and favored by God does not make one exempt from living a life pleasing to Him. After entering into covenant with God, one’s future sins are not invisible to God. Many members of “the chosen people” did not inherit the promise because they did not continue to obey the Lord; their carcasses fell in the wilderness, and these things were recorded to warn us that such can happen to us (I Cor. 10:1-12).  Now I would like to examine some New Testament texts that confirm our need for obedience to the Lord after being born into His family, and the consequences for disobedience.

A favorite doctrinal component of Calvinism is that if you have ever believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, or ever had a moment of true faith, His personal righteousness has been imputed to your account once-for-all, and is the only thing God will ever see when He looks at you in the future. In other words, even if you live a wicked life after that and die in sin, God can’t see it; all He sees is Jesus when He looks at you.  If such were true, then not only will He continue to see us as obedient when we disobey, He will be mocked.  He said we would reap what we sow, but we really won’t! He said the wages of sin was death, but we have found a loophole whereby we can sow to our flesh and not reap corruption! He is not only blind, He can’t chastise His children when they do wrong, since He can’t see their sin!

Complete hogwash!

One wonders how God could ever see the righteous acts of the saints, if He can’t see their sin! Do NOT be deceived by these teachings; God will not be mocked. If we sow to our flesh we WILL reap corruption, and God DOES chastise His children when they do wrong. (Gal. 6:7-8; Heb. 12:7) The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good. (Prov. 15:3) The Lord is wearied when people falsely say that evildoers are good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them (Mal. 2:17). People who do what is wicked are wicked; only he that does righteousness is considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord (I John 2:29; 3:7).

Jesus taught the following:

The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves…shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (Jn. 5:28-29)

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus taught the importance of DOING the Father’s will (righteousness), not just acknowledging or SAYING “Lord, Lord.” So important is it to DO the teachings of Christ, that the man who DOES them is likened to a house that survives a storm, while the man who does not DO them is likened to a house that is destroyed in the storm for lack of a proper foundation.  Friend, you ARE that house, and you are determining the final destiny of your house by whether or not you are submitting to Christ and doing God’s will. This is FOUNDATIONAL to your spiritual life.  Remember, King Jesus will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend (cause sin) and all persons who do iniquity, and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt.13:41-42). So serious it is to get the sin out of your life, Christian, that Jesus said it would be better to cut off an offending body-part than to have your whole body “cast into hell.” (Matt. 5: 29-30)

So what if you don’t do as Jesus said, and deal a death blow to the sin in your own life?  Is all automatically forgiven because of His blood shed on the cross?

If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:   of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

Friends, this Scripture destroys the license-to-sin doctrine.  If you willfully continue to sin after being sanctified, you are treating the precious blood of Jesus as an unholy thing!  God sees it and views you as worthy of much sorer punishment than the punishments inflicted on those who disobeyed Moses’ law!  When Ananias and Sapphira sinned in the church, was their sin hidden from God’s view? On the contrary, Peter, speaking by the Holy Ghost, rebuked them publicly. Their judgment was swift, and caused the fear of God to fall on the people who heard about it. Paul instructed Timothy to deal with sin in the church in like manner:

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.   I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.   Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.  (I Tim. 5:20-22)

Instead of following the right ways of the Lord, many in the church instead excuse or overlook flagrant sin, letting it spread like leaven through the whole lump. After all, if a person is considered positionally righteous even when they are doing unrighteous things, then who are they to judge?  False teaching is so dangerous!! Paul instructed the Corinthian church to put the sinner out of the church until he repents!! (I Cor. 5)  To refuse to do so is to be a partaker in other men’s sins and to become defiled.  Remember, the pure religion that pleases God includes keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27); this presupposes that God sees when we become “spotted.”

In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus–who is God–addresses the church. Does He only see His own righteousness when He looks at them, or does He assess them exactly according to their own works, and command repentance when necessary?  Indeed, Jesus makes some startling threats toward those who will not repent!

“Thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.   Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev. 2:14-16)

I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.   Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.   He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  (Rev. 3:1-5)

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  (Rev. 3:15-19)

Please study those two chapters in full, and you cannot fail to see that all the beautiful promises of God are specifically for overcomers. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). There is no easy way; the easy way taken by most is the wide road that leads to destruction. We must die to ourselves, and strive [make every effort, agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:24)

Peter wrote that because the judgment of God is coming, and because we look forward to a new heaven and earth where only righteousness dwells, we must be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless…and beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Pet. 3:14, 17)  The righteous can be led away with the error of the wicked and fall? Yes!

Paul wrote of those who swerved away from love, a clean conscience, and sincere faith, and so had left the path of life and had only “vain jangling” or “meaningless talk”–the emptiness of religion without God (I Tim. 1:5-6). He wrote that some who had not held onto faith and a “good conscience” (they defiled and hardened their conscience by disobedience), had shipwrecked their faith! (I Tim. 1:19) He wrote that any who refused to provide financially for their own widows had, by his wickedness, denied the faith, and was worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). He wrote that some younger widows, being idle and gossipers, had already turned aside after Satan. (I Tim. 5:15)  In fact, Paul recognized that he himself was not immune to falling away:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.   And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.   I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:   But I keep under my body [keep my flesh crucified], and bring it into subjection [to God’s will]: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Cor. 9:24-27, brackets mine)

Paul recognized he could be cast away even after all his dedicated service to God! Just as a man who wants to win a race must be disciplined, so must the Christian life be disciplined, for “if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Tim. 2:5)  It is possible to begin the spiritual race and not finish the course, which is why we are urged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and…run with patience [endurance].” (Heb. 12:1)  It is possible to engage in “the good fight” and not compete lawfully, being finally disqualified.

In 2 Peter 2, Peter wrote of false teachers who bring in damnable heresies [such as once-saved-always-saved or “God doesn’t see your sin”], even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  Peter describes these false teachers as having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices. Beware if your spiritual teacher shamelessly claims he cannot cease from sin, and that we must all sin every day in thought, word and deed! They teach such lies because they themselves are spiritually adulterous, loving the things of this world, especially the adoration and financial support of others who love sin and wish to have their ears tickled with sin-excusing lies.  Such teachers allure through the lusts of the flesh those who were clean escaped from them who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. And so these wolves pretending to be ministers teach the flock of God that they have “liberty in Christ” to sin all they want! But when a man serves sin, he becomes the slave of sin! His so-called liberty is false! Don’t be deceived. Peter called these who had at first escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and were again entangled therein and overcome worse off than they were before they knew the Lord!  They were like dogs returning to lick up the vomit they had expelled, or pigs washed from their filthiness returning to their filth.  Truly this is receiving the grace of God in vain!

Dear reader, it is possible to deny the Lord by your disobedient works (Titus 1:16). Consider this carefully:

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Tim. 2:19)

This is the foundation of the Lord, and will not change despite the empty promises of false teachers.  How do you then depart from iniquity? David said a man could cleanse his way by taking heed to God’s Word (Psa. 119:9)  It is by abiding in Christ that His good fruit will be manifest in your life (John 15).   I John 3:6 teaches that whoever abides in Jesus does not sin! When you go astray, it is directly due to your not abiding in Christ.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.  (John 15:7)

Paul said, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3)  We must CHOOSE the things above or the things of this earth. We must CHOOSE to mortify our members which are on this earth, and to follow the things that please the Lord, because the wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience (Col. 3:5-6).

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post!  I hope it is clear to you that in both Old and New Testaments, God’s covenants with men are conditional. If you have not already, please study both testaments on your own, asking God to open your understanding to the Truth. He has promised wisdom to those who ask, and He has promised to be found of those who seek Him with their whole heart.  He is the God of love, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a peculiar people zealous for good works. His grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-14). I pray that you do not receive the grace of God in vain! I will leave you with this powerful statement by the Apostle Paul:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Rom. 8:13)

God bless you!

Posted in Backslider, Calvinism, Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 2

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 21, 2011

In this post, I would like to present you with Old Testament Scriptures which demonstrate that God deals with people on a day-to-day basis. He makes conditional covenants (agreements) with people, but if the people violate the conditions for blessing and refuse to repent, God is not bound to bless them still. The covenant has essentially been broken. Though God is merciful and loves to forgive, He does not blind Himself to the future sins of His people, allowing them to sin all they want and still remain under His protection and grace.

Some will argue that the Old Testament has no bearing on the lives of New Covenant believers, but this is error. We must remember that Jesus and all the New Testament teachers taught new believers from the Old Testament! It is applicable because God changes not. His character in the Old Testament is still the character He has today. There is a newer and better covenant in place, with a greater High Priest and more precious promises, but God remains the same covenant God, whose conditions must be met if one is to remain in His favor.

The Old Testament Judaic law was a shadow of things to come (Heb. 10:1)–meaning it was a type, from which we can draw truth and parallels relating directly to the present gospel time. Paul wrote exactly that in I Cor. 10:1-12, warning Christians that although the Old Testament Israelites had exited Egypt (symbolically: separated from the world), lived under the cloud (symbolically: enjoyed the protection of God), were baptized in the cloud and the sea (symbolically: old man crucified in baptism, resurrection to a new life as God’s child), ate spiritual meat (symbolically: partook of the True Bread, Jesus), and drank of the Rock who is Christ (received living waters), most were still overthrown in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land. Why? They lusted, committed idolatry, fornicated, tempted Christ, and murmured in continual complaint, being unthankful. All these things happened to them, and were carefully recorded for examples to us, according to Paul!!

Therefore, we under the New Covenant can be sure that if we do the same things the Old Covenant people did, we will suffer the same fate. Though we have at one time separated from the world, enjoyed God’s protection, been baptized in Jesus, and feasted at the table of God, it is possible that because of our future sins, we will not receive the promise.  For this reason, the writer of Hebrews admonishes us,

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Heb. 10:36)

It is imperative for those of us who have faith in the promise of God to DO THE WILL OF GOD with PATIENCE–BEFORE we receive the promise!

Listen to the promise of God given to Israel in Deut. 31:8–

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Right after Moses delivered this wonderful promise to Israel, God gave him a snapshot of the future; Israel would “rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.” What would happen next? Would God overlook their future sin and “never forsake them”?–

Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? (Deut. 31:16, 17)

When Joshua’s men suffered defeat at Ai, he sought answers of the Lord. Hadn’t the Lord promised to be with them? Why was He not keeping His promise? The Lord’s answer:

Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. (Josh. 7:11, 12)

Clearly, God’s promise to be with Israel was conditioned upon their remaining separate from “accursed things.”  God’s present favor is not a promise of unconditional future favor, no matter what you do.

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. (Josh. 24:20)

The same warning was given to Solomon, a man gifted with wisdom from God:

Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.  (I Chron. 28:9)

Azariah, speaking by the Spirit of God, said the following to King Asa, and the people of Judah and Benjamin:

The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. (2 Chron. 15:2)

Let us not forget David, the man after God’s own heart, the shepherd king chosen to replace the backsliding King Saul. When he took another man’s wife and had her husband killed, “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Sam. 11:27)  The Lord did not overlook the sins of the man He had chosen. Many people believe that David remained in a perfectly safe, “saved” condition during the long period of time before he repented, but the Bible does not make this claim–contrarily, it claims that unrepentant adulterers and murders will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9; Rev. 21:8). Certainly, God’s mercy was extended to David in that he did not die in an unrepentant state, and His hand was heavy on David leading him to repentance. David could have hardened his heart at Nathan’s rebuke; thankfully, he did not.  We should not conclude from this story that David was an adulterer who was saved (unbiblical), but that God saw David’s sin and expected repentance.

In Ezekiel 8, the prophet was encouraged by God to look upon the wicked abominations–and greater abominations than these–being committed in the house of God. Was this not the house that once had the glory of the Lord resting upon it? (I Kings 8:11) But now God was angry at what the people were doing, so angry that He said,

Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. (Ezek. 8:18)

Dear reader, God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (Psa. 7:11).  He does not turn a blind eye to the future deeds of those who are presently considered “righteous.” In fact, He declared that if a righteous person turns from past righteousness  to future sin, none of his past righteousness will even be remembered! (Ezek. 3:20; 18:24-26; 33:12) A righteous person’s future sins are not invisible to God! Dare you say to the all-seeing God, “You can’t see what I’m doing”?

Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? (Isa. 29:15)

The Lord says to His chosen people that turn to sin, “I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins.” (Amos 5:12) Not only does He know them, but “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl. 12:14)  If you cover your sins (perhaps with unbiblical arguments like “God doesn’t see my sin”), you will NOT PROSPER, but if you confess AND FORSAKE them, you will have mercy (Prov. 28:13).

Although Israel had a covenant agreement with God whereby his sins could be covered and forgotten, his refusal to obey God’s voice, and his continuation in wickedness made his iniquity to be remembered (Ezek. 21:24). Because the people refused to restrain their wandering feet, the Lord no longer accepted them, but would now “remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.” (Jer. 4:10)

This doctrine that “God doesn’t see my sin” grieves the heart of God, who desires to heal backsliders of their ways if only they would “consider…in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.” (Hos. 7:1-2)

Apostasy was so rampant when the prophet Jeremiah was preaching, that the Lord directly said to the people, “I will utterly forget you…I will forsake you…and cast you out of my presence.” (Jer. 23:39)  Because the people transgressed the covenant and “cast off the thing that is good,” counting the “great things” of His law “a strange thing,” the Lord would no longer accept them, but would remember their iniquity and send them back to Egypt! (Hos. 8:3, 12, 13)  Because the people went whoring away from the God who loved them, and insisted upon corrupting themselves, He would “drive them out of His house,” “love them no more,” and “cast them away.” (Hos. 9)

The Israelites were taught by God, through the Levitical system, how costly sin was by seeing their innocent beasts die for their sins. Whatever sins were remitted by the shedding of blood would not be remembered against them. It was not a one-time deal, but a lifestyle of obeying God’s voice, examining themselves, and making appropriate offerings to God while seeking His forgiveness and favor. A man who became careless with the things of God was “cut off from his people.” Although the blood of animals cannot take away sins, these things were written for examples to us, and for our admonition (I Cor. 10:11).  Our offering for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ (shed once for all time), but this does not negate the fact that we must live lifestyles of obeying God’s voice, heeding His correction, examining ourselves sincerely, confessing and forsaking sin while seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, and looking to the crucified & risen Lamb of God with faith in His blood.  Carelessness and callousness can still result in being “cut off.” I will discuss this same theme in New Testament Scriptures in the next post.

God bless you!

Go to Part 3

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